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Gun dealer wants weapons on campus

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Eric Thompson sells guns online through his more than 100 websites. The gunman who killed 32 at Virginia Tech last year was one of his customers; so was the gunman who killed 5 last month at Northern Illinois University. Still, “I’m sure Wal-Mart has sold more weapons to killers than I have,” he says. Thompson believes more responsible gun ownership is a better solution than restricting weapons sales. (William Glasheen / For The Los Angeles Times)
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Eric Thompson shows a handgun to customer Nicholas Koch in his Green Bay, Wis., showroom. Koch, a regular customer and former Marine who has six or seven handguns at home, says he resents the blame Thompson receives for his customers’ crimes: “It’s like Chevy getting blamed for people driving drunk.” (William Glasheen / For The Los Angeles Times)
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IT specialist Jeff Tilkens is one of 17 employees at Eric Thompson’s firm selling guns and accessories online. Other employees sell guns over the phone. Customers aren’t screened: “It’s a product,” Thompson says. “They have a right to have what they want to have.” (William Glasheen / For The Los Angeles Times)
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Jim Persson fills Internet orders to be mailed at TCSCOM, the weapons-sales business owned by Eric Thompson. Thompson says he didn’t enter the business for political reasons but has become passionate about gun rights, and he expresses deep respect for the gun enthusiasts -- including police officers, hunters and collectors -- who are the bulk of his customers. (William Glasheen / For The Los Angeles Times)
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Filled Internet orders wait to be mailed at Eric Thompson’s weapons-sales business. Since it became known that two of his customers were the gunmen in school shootings, he’s received hate mail -- some threatening his three young children. Gun owners, he says, seem rational and responsible in contrast. He thinks having more gun owners in classrooms would prevent future shootings. (William Glasheen / For The Los Angeles Times)
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Eric Thompson sells guns out of his Green Bay, Wis., showroom and from more than 100 websites. Thompson’s built an online forum, GunDebate.com, to discuss ideas for gun safety. He believes gun owners should be able to carry their weapons in schools. “Otherwise, it’s ‘Welcome to your killing spree,’ ” he says. “Because there’s nothing to stop these shooters.” (William Glasheen / For The Los Angeles Times)
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